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About Adventure Therapy

" Adventure therapy is a form of experiential therapy that involves various types of adventure. Adventure therapy is often conducted outdoors, although some adventure therapy activities are done indoors. Activities may include things like camping, hiking, navigating ropes courses, rock climbing, sailing, and cooperative games. Adventure therapy allows participants to take calculated risks and explore personal issues in a safe, supportive environment under the guidance and support of mental health professionals.


Like other types of experiential therapy, adventure therapy uses the experience itself to help individuals face and overcome emotional issues, addictions, behavioral problems, and many other challenges. It also helps participants develop important life skills that can benefit them throughout their lives.

Adventure therapy is known by several different names, including activity-based psychotherapy or counseling, wilderness therapy, and therapeutic excursions. Although the names may suggest that adventure therapy is all about having fun, it’s designed to have profound therapeutic benefits and teach valuable life lessons, such as the importance of cooperating with others, working as a team, and the impact of natural consequences due to poor choices. While there is fun to be had, adventure therapy can tap into deeply painful issues. That’s true of most types of therapy, and can actually be a tremendous benefit of this therapeutic approach. By bringing those issues to the surface, adventure therapy provides ample opportunity to confront them and begin the healing process that’s essential to personal growth and a happier life.

Adventure therapy often involves spending time in nature. This has therapeutic benefits in and of itself, particularly for teens and young adults who come from urban areas. Getting away from the day to day pressures of daily life, as well as being surrounded by spectacular natural beauty, breathing fresh air, and listening to the unique and often tranquil sounds of nature, can boost anyone’s spirits and help them gain a new appreciation for life. For those recovering from deep emotional wounds, unresolved trauma, or the grips of a destructive addiction, adventure therapy can open doors to healing that traditional forms of talk therapy often can’t. This is why adventure therapy is often used in many treatment programs.

Unlike most forms of therapy, adventure therapy doesn’t require you to spend all of your time sitting and talking to a therapist. Programs that last for a weekend or several days out in nature provide individuals with ample opportunity to listen, instead, to the still, small (or perhaps raging or crying) voice within. For many participants, this may be a very foreign experience as the majority of their waking hours are bombarded with almost non-stop noise from multiple sources – cell phones, computers, iPods, stereos and televisions, machinery, traffic, planes, trains, next-door neighbors, and family members. Facing and reflecting upon one’s thoughts during moments of silence is an important therapeutic aspect of some types of adventure therapy.

Spending time in quiet reflection allows participants to gain a greater sense of self-awareness.   They can think about the things they accomplished (e.g. putting up a tent for the first time or climbing a challenging rock wall), the fears they’ve faced (e.g. heights, performing a task while others watch), the connections they’ve established or difficulties they’ve encountered with other participants, and things they’ve learned about themselves. The activities used in adventure therapy represent, in some form or another, situations and challenges that participants face in the real world. Therapists will often encourage participants to talk or think about the similarities between a particular activity and experiences they’ve had in their lives. They may also encourage participants to think about the feelings an activity or experience elicited, or the consequences (good or bad) of a choice they made."

Information from

Rock Climber Powdering Hands

Primary Elements of Adventure Therapy

  • Clients are directly involved in their treatment rather than merely observing from the sidelines

  • Individuals receive positive therapeutic benefits from the process because they are motivated to participate in it

  • Ongoing reflection during therapy enhances personal growth and progress

  • The activities that are chosen must teach lessons that are applicable to both past and future experiences

  • The experience is both meaningful and real to the participants because it reflects their real life.

Girl Kayaking


The Science and Research around Nature, Exercise and a Good Dose of Adventure...


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